But my world is still unpredictable

And still I survive

By the grace of chance


The strength of my choices

This is my rewrite of the closing sentence   of a chapter called “Choices” from an exquisite book,  Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses written by Robin Wall Kimmerer (More on this book below.)

Kimmerer’s sentence inspired me to look at the types, the quirks, and the challenges of the choices we make as you and I take each breath and live each day in the “still unpredictable world.”

I begin by sharing my thoughts on each phrase:

But my world is still unpredictable. Do you embrace the unpredictability of your world or does it threaten your equilibrium? Unpredictability is part of the continuum and creativity of life…the life of your soul and the life of all existence.

This is why the presence of the word “still” is so powerful in this phrase and in the next. It speaks to the continuum free of the unpredictability.  …Still unpredictable is an oxymoron: still indicates just as before or the same as and not surprising.  My world remains predictably unpredictable!

And still I survive.When I collapse into the fear of my life’s unpredictability, when anxiety rattles my bones (usually the clock says 3AM), I find comfort in the truth that all the surprise and drama and devastation of events, turning points and relationships have not undone my soul.  I still survive!!! My soul remains whole.  Yes, the anxiety survives, too, but it weakens as it becomes part (just a part!) of the accepted, known, and predictable responses woven through my life.

And still I survive. And still I survive.  Repeat this over ten breaths and feel the anxiety fade, blow away, become silent.

By the grace of chance. Recollect all the moments when chance graced your existence.  Write all the moments down on a sheet of paper.  Scan your list and make it the wallpaper on the screens of your computer and your phone or print it and tape it to the ceiling above your bed…and maybe draw angel wings on it. You are loved by beings and protected by forces unseen except in moments of chance.

And.  Here this conjunction joins two parts of you together: the part that relies on the grace of chance and the part that takes hold of life through choice. Don’t you smile at the looping gift of polarities!

The strength of my choices. Meditate on the strength of making choices.  Every time you make a choice you do battle with three monsters: self-doubt, indifference and ambivalence. In winning a battle with any one monster you are strengthening yourself, even if your doubt, indifference or ambivalence is small in comparison to your confidence, enthusiasm or certainty.

With each choice you can ask yourself where on these three spectrums (self-doubt/confidence, indifference/enthusiasm, and ambivalence/certainty) your choice lives.  This attention means you are becoming not only stronger in dealing with the unpredictability of your world, you are becoming exquisitely self-aware and the agent of your life.

Limiting Choices

Now let me share that I am also trying to limit the choices I must make each day.  Too many choices weaken my capacity to choose: What to eat. What to wear. What to do first. What to watch on Netflix. What flavor yogurt to buy. Which of all the distracting emails to read and which to trash.  When to do the laundry, the shopping, the writing. Yes, we need to make these choices, but do we need to make them over and over?

This is where organization, repetition, rhythm and budgets need to be chosen over chaos, variety, randomness and limitlessness. We must choose our choices wisely.

Personally, I still succumb to chaos and randomness more than I wish, but I am finding repetition to be a gift. Here are some examples:  I eat the same breakfast and the same lunch almost everyday.  My wardrobe is becoming more like a uniform (I still get my clothing fantasies going when I look at catalogs, but I know what colors and styles feel comfortable and I know my budget so the fantasies are not draining my psyche around choosing.) I go to the same yoga class on Tuesdays and Fridays.  You get the picture.

My same breakfast everyday is not boring (egg and steamed kale, sometimes with dandelion greens or a little feta, black tea with milk). It is tasty and satisfying.  I feel joy that I am not wasting my capacity to choose on breakfast and wasting my time on figuring out what my choices are. I feel joy that the prep and the eating and the cleanup, don’t exhaust my attention.

As I write this I realize I need to save my choice-making to that which enriches my soul life, my work, my dearest relationships, my health and my intentions to evolve my selfhood, practically, morally, spiritually.  I don’t want to waste my choice-making on my animal needs for shelter, warmth, food, preening and pleasure.  I want to make fewer choices every day so my soul is free, unencumbered by the mundane, tedious, and meaningless.

I am a long way from that goal.  Too often, I seek distraction or let myself be distracted because there has been no strength in my choice to to stay focused on my work, my relationships, my well-being, or my development.

Why You May Avoid Choice and Chance

When there is strength in our choices, we can recognize the grace of chance when it flies in on a sun beam.  If there is no strength living in our choices chance lacks grace and becomes graceless distraction.

Don’t feel bad about this. Just notice it.  Like mine, your childhood might not have adequately nurtured choice. Perhaps what choices you made resulted in punishment, ridicule, or inflating praise. Chance may have been sudden abuse, neglect or abandonment. You see, your childhood may have left your sense of choice and chance filled with threat, so you avoid both to remain safe.

Here’s a suggestion:  Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors around making choices.  At the end of a day or of a particular project (like grocery shopping) look at the choices you made and the ones you didn’t make.  Reflect on where you choose organization over chaos, repetition over variety, rhythm over randomness and budget over indulgence.  What was conscious and what wasn’t?  Where did doubt, indifference, or ambivalence get in your way?

(I’ve made you a pdf to support your choice-making.  You can download it here…

If you feel edgy or angsty, or crazy at this exercise look at your memories, talk with your therapist or contact me. Your soul may need loving kindness from others to heal, to be free, to be empowered to make your choices and be blessed by chance.

(My version of) Kimmerer’s sweet wisdom will help each of us feel whole, free and stable in our challenging lives and times. Read them often.  Write them down each night or morning until it becomes your own sweet wisdom.

But my world is still unpredictable

And still I survive

By the grace of chance


The strength of my choices

Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses is  a life-enriching gem and I am so glad and grateful that I found it.  I’ve always loved mosses but I never knew why until I read this book written by a woman who is a mother, a scientist, a poetic questioner, a lover of mosses, a Native American and a gifted writer.  All this enthusiasm and I am only halfway through the book. I am reading it very slowly, savoring every word and blessing every type of moss described.